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Preparing for a successful implementation

Preparing for a successful implementation

ERP systems have many benefits but successful implementation has been notoriously low.


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ERP systems can help streamline processes, improve organizational structures, create efficiencies, increase visibility and cut costs. The success rate has, however, been notoriously low. ERP system implementations can be complex, expensive, challenging and time-consuming, with investments in software, hardware, middleware and customization frequently failing to meet user requirements. One common contributing factor is the long, 2-5-year cycle from concept to ‘go–live,’ where advances in technology and defense operational changes can cause obsolescence, before, or soon after completion.

To speed up this cycle, many information and communication technology (ICT) program managers are embracing agile approaches that can adapt to changes at every stage to meet user needs. There is a strong focus on stakeholder collaboration and user input throughout development.

Defense organizations are also highly complex, due to their size, functional diversity and geographical spread, with military stakeholders increasingly engaged on active operations. Consequently, these stakeholder groups have varying ERP data requirements. Some users may not even need ERP, preferring to integrate ERP remotely to the battlespace, using nodes. Simplified end-use environment would typically include:

  • Combat units deployed: military combat personnel who need access to real-time, clear, accurate and instant information accessible in any deployed location. These users may be highly mobile, utilizing combat platforms that autonomously execute or trigger their own logistics and maintenance functions.
  • Deployed theatre system: commanders require real-time situational awareness of all operations in-theatre, and need to quickly undertake “what if?” or “how fast can you?” scenario analyses.
  • Static national system: defense personnel that support back-of-house functions like procurement, human resource management, and finance activities, demand accurate, repeatable and auditable information that complies with policy and legislation.

View a detailed break down of the various User data requirements (PDF 411 KB) of the above groups.

Understanding user needs is key to implementation

When determining specifications and requirements, defense organizations should keep users’ disparate needs front of mind. A Concept of Operation (CONOPS) articulates the user perspective, by capturing both organizational and operational data requirements, and clarifying how the ERP is utilized within day-to-day activities. Users may find it difficult to fully explain requirements early in the project, so the CONOPS should be continually revisited and refined.

A CONOPS also helps to encourage innovative architectural solutions, by addressing questions such as:

  • How to satisfy operational needs that are often not fulfilled by traditional ERP systems?
  • What kind of system(s) can meet all defense user requirements? 

A good CONOPS provides an opportunity to discuss how to shift from traditional ‘build-own-operate’ models to fresh approaches, incorporating emerging technologies and outsourced business models, with the potential to reduce cost and complexity, and implement in less than 12 months. 

Key questions

  • What steps is your organization taking to reduce the time from initial concept to ‘go–live?’
  • Do you regularly consult all stakeholders throughout the implementation cycle?  

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